Sports / Tennis

Wozniacki taking on marathon challenge

By Associated Press in New York (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-04 07:02

Caroline Wozniacki always feels confident she can outrun her opponent on the tennis court.

The former world No 1 figures that with a bit more training, she can cover 26.2 miles.

Wozniacki plans to play a full tournament schedule this fall while fitting in time to train for the New York City Marathon.

She typically runs for 30-40 minutes a day as part of workouts for tennis and hopes that one longer session per week of an hour or more can get her through the Nov 2 race.

And, no, she is not seeking this challenge in an attempt to distract herself from her personal life, Wozniacki insisted.

Golfer Rory McIlroy broke off their engagement in late May, less than a month before Wozniacki decided to prepare for a marathon when she would have been preparing for a wedding.

Wozniacki taking on marathon challenge

"Tennis helped me get through the tough times," Wozniacki said. "Now I'm just feeling happy and I wanted to do something good for others. I think that this had nothing really to do with my personal life. It was something I was passionate about."

The 24-year-old Dane had long wanted to run a marathon, and looking at this year's tournament schedule, she determined it was doable.

Wozniacki will represent Team for Kids, which helps fund New York Road Runners' youth programs.

"People ask me, 'Why don't you just run a 5K or 10K?' I'm like, 'Well, I do that all the time, so it wouldn't really be a challenge'," she said. "This is really something I need to put my mind to."

Wozniacki was in Manhattan last week with Meb Keflezighi, the reigning Boston Marathon champ who will also raise money for Team for Kids at the New York race, which he won in 2009.

"There's no turning back now," she said with a laugh.

She'll be back in the city in three weeks for the US Open, which, she hopes, takes her through Sept 7. Then it is a week off before three weeks playing in Asia, another week off, and a tournament in Moscow.

Wozniacki hopes to qualify for the WTA Finals, which run from Oct 20-26 in Singapore, ending just a week before the marathon. She is currently 17th in the standings, though, with only the top eight players taking part.

Wozniacki reached her only major final at the US Open, losing in 2009 to Kim Clijsters. She is ranked 13th, but is coming off her first title in nine months when she won in Istanbul on July 20-the same day McIlroy clinched the British Open.

She is confident she can avoid injury while ramping up her running.

"I know my body so well now after so many years on tour and so many years of pushing it," Wozniacki said.

She has never entered a road race, and the longest distance she has ever run is 18 kilometers, which is a bit less than a half-marathon. But she has always been known for her conditioning on the tennis court and likes to think her experience gritting through fatigue will apply well to her new endeavor.

Plenty of retired athletes have run marathons but Wozniacki didn't want to wait.

"When an idea pops into my head, I kind of go for it," she said. "I know that if I keep pushing it back, I will never do it."

(China Daily 08/04/2014 page23)

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